Planet Money’s The Indicator

Planet Money is one of my favorite podcasts that I listen to.  They talk about money, economics and financial related news tidbits.  They recently spun off a mini-podcast called The Indicator which does a deep dive into one particular aspect in Planet Money that they think deserves a more thorough analysis.  Recently they put out a podcast talking about the Beige Report (wiki).  I had no idea there was such a report that is put out by the Federal Reserve.  Nonetheless, the reporters at Planet Money did their best to humor and enlighten the significance of the report with three snippets.  The full transcript of the snippet can be found here.  Below is the snippet that I found most interesting.

SMITH: And Boston had this great aha moment for us that they wrote about in “The Beige Book” which might explain why wages have been rising so slowly even though unemployment is so low across the nation and in Boston.

VANEK SMITH: And this is a big economic mystery that everybody’s talking about right now. I mean, unemployment’s so low people are trying to hire like crazy, and that could help be explained by this moment in “The Beige Book.” They’re talking about a manufacturing company. And they say, quote, “another industrial firm had 20 unfilled openings in a plant with a hundred employees and said they were making up for it with significant overtime. When asked why they didn’t increase wages to fill the openings, the contact said they would have to pay all the existing workers more, which would be uneconomic.”

SMITH: So they’re making everybody work overtime…

VANEK SMITH: Yeah.

SMITH: …Because they’re afraid of giving everyone a raise. So they can’t raise wages on just the new people that they desperately need.

VANEK SMITH: Yes, exactly.

SMITH: Which is fascinating because, I mean, this is something that data doesn’t often capture. We like to think that there’s this direct relationship between wages and employment. But of course there’s all these weird things in the economy – contracts and special cases…

VANEK SMITH: And office politics.

SMITH: …And office politics that just makes it hard to give new people raises.

 

https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=578954679

 

After hearing the episode, I’m a bit shocked at the rationale.  Why would hiring new workers who would have higher wages force a company to give everyone a raise?  That reasoning doesn’t make sense to me.  And more importantly, wouldn’t that just mean the wages you’re paying now are actually not high enough?

 

Master of None

Aziz Ansari (wiki) has recently been in the news as part of the #MeToo (wiki) movement.  Before this event, he’s originally a stand up comedian who transitioned into TV show fame.  Some of his stand up routines on Netflix (here, here) are pretty funny.  I’ve read his book Modern Romance which held a few hilarious dating anecdotes that are relatable to the singles dating life.

Master of None is his latest TV show on Netflix.  Ansari recently won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in TV Series, Musical or Comedy.  As one of the series on my “To Watch” list, I started watching sometime last month and finished watching it yesterday.  As I watched the show, I began to realize that I was more interested in the dating and relationship stories between Rachel and Francesca.  I think what makes this such a great show is the relatability of the characters and their backstories.  The Thanksgiving episode is a great example and is one of the better episodes from both seasons.  It’s well written and well directed and shows the evolution of Denise and her family’s acceptance of Denise as a lesbian.

Towards the end of season 2, I related to Ansari’s character of how he felt and with his emotions with relationships.  I understood just how Ansari’s character felt as I had felt the same way many times in the past.  That physical pain and heartache in the chest, the constant thinking in my own head space, and the irrational decisions were all relatable emotions and attributes.  The last two episodes of season 2 made me reflect on my emotional, physical and rational state when I was experiencing these emotions.  Watching these episodes made me sad that the relationships never worked out.  Unlike the happy ending in season 2, the potential for a positive relationship wasn’t even an option in my case.

This show is worth watching.  The cast and storytelling are relatable in this modern day.

President Obama Interview

David Letterman has a new Netflix show.  It’s not quite the same late night talk show format in his previous career but I think it suits him fine.  The first guest of this show is none other than Barack Obama.

There’s so much Letterman can talk about with President Obama but there’s clearly not enough time given the show’s format.  Obama speaks eloquently about a number of topics from family, Obama’s use of social media, the financial crisis, and even the current political system.  I find myself entranced at their conversation… so much so, I listened to it a 2nd time to digest the parts that I missed the first time.

I truly think 1 hour is nowhere enough time to cover all the topics that are of interest to Obama and in some ways interest to the US population in general.  I really look forward in seeing what Obama can do in the future to make his legacy even more enduring.

Gerrymandering Podcast

The 538 political podcast have been putting out a special gerrymandering episodes for listeners.  Gerrymandering is in my opinion one of the bigger political issues of that may need to be “solved” in order to minimize the partisan political bickering that seems to dominate the news.

I highly suggest listening to these podcasts because it dives into the intricacies of trying to establish “fair” political districts for communities to send their representatives to Congress.  And it’s more complicated than I had previously imagined.

Hip Protectors?

CES 2018 is going on right now in Las Vegas.  Some of the tech websites I read are following CES posting articles about the interesting new and concept tech in the foreseeable future.  This one article from The Verge caught my eye.  Are you ready for this new wearable tech?

It’s a belt you wear that will deploy airbags for your hips when you fall.

 

I’ll let that sink in.

 

A belt that deploys airbags to minimize hip damage when you fall.

Wha…?  OK I understand the idea behind it.  The problem the company is trying to solve is admirable… But really? Let’s think it through.  Who is going to wear a belt all the time to minimize hip damage when falling?  That was my first thought.

My second thought was… Will there be other similar technologies for other parts of the body?  When you fall, you don’t just hit your hip.  Your elbows and your knees also are collateral damage too.  Your wrists too.

As the article goes on to say, will the elderly (target market) even adopt this technology?  Remember, it took elderly people a long time to finally get onto Facebook.  And they probably did so in order to communicate with their sons/daughters but more importantly to see pictures of their grand sons/ grand daughters that they’re sons and daughters were posting.  There’s a follow up article from The Verge that discusses this very idea of whether or not the elderly will adopt such technologies.

2nd Season of Bill Nye Saves the World

Looks like Bill Nye Saves the World has a 2nd season on Netflix now.

I’m amused by opening the season with a discourse on marijuana.  Is this Nye’s effort to engage the Netflix audience to open a broader national dialog into marijuana?  Nye approaches this subject from a scientific curiosity/inquiry viewpoint regarding the unknown effects of marijuana through the investigative reporting of groundbreaking Israeli scientific work into understanding the effects of marijuana.  Since marijuana is a Schedule 1 drugs/substance in the US, little is known about the effects on humans since controlled research can’t be performed due to it’s drug classification.  Using this scientific curiosity/inquiry approach is interesting to get the conversation started but ultimately the FDA/DEA will need to have one key question answered: Does marijuana usage lead to a “high potential for abuse”?  Without satisfactorily answering this question, the FDA can’t possibly condone further experiments to fully understand marijuana effects on humans.  Or can they?

Aside from marijuana, the other episodes also look to be interesting. From the quick synopsis of each episodes, there is one about cybersecurity, sleeping, and super resistant “superbugs.”